04 Aug Calling time on self-sabotage
Why do I lose motivation working on a goal?
Why is it that almost as soon as I start to see some success in a goal I am working on after a while my energy and enthusiasm starts to fade? A few weeks ago, I was doing well going regularly to boot camp classes, I’d started to nail being consistent, I’d managed to shift my mindset to be more positive and I was really starting to see some results, brilliant. Then what happens?
This week, I’ve started to find excuses not to go as often as I have been. What on earth am I doing? I even packed a bag one night, took it to work and then still didn’t make it! At least it’s only two classes I’ve missed, if I pick it back up tomorrow its’ not that bad I know, but given the results I want to achieve long term I really need to keep being consistent and I know this..so why on earth am I getting in my own way?
I’m not alone, you’ve only got to think about New Year’s resolutions to know that I’m in crowded company losing my motivation working towards a goal.
At least that now I am aware of my behaviour, I have more chance of correcting it quickly, but I wanted to really understand why this happens to me because it’s certainly not the first time and I need to figure it out before I hit winter training when the excuses seem much easier to justify.
Self-sabotage is any behaviour, thought or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. Is my brain just resisting the changes I am working towards, is it just trying to protect me from disappointment?
I watched a couple of Teal Swans’ fascinating You Tube videos on fragmentation and self-sabotage. She talks about our individual personality being like a mosaic of different personalities or parts and if you are experiencing self-sabotage, it is because not all your internal selves or parts agree with your conscious desires.
Metaphorically speaking, what any form of self-sabotage always has in common is that one part thinks the answer to a good life and happiness is going left and the other part thinks that going left is literally the road to ruin. Both parts though, have your best interest at heart. No part within us is against us.
Thinking about this has helped me to understand better why I sometimes get in my own way, I’m probably sub-consciously a bit fearful of what might happen if some of the changes I make materialise. Will I fail? Will I lose friends that don’t understand why I want to do what I’m doing? Will I be able to maintain it when I get there?
Change is a really hard process and you’ve got to find ways to continually motivate yourself to be consistent and stick at your goals for the long term in order to get there. For me, just being aware of the fact that there is a perhaps a part of me that is afraid of the changes I’m working towards is an enormous help. Because I can acknowledge it, I can try and get underneath it, to understand it, to try and reassure it, and I can make a conscious choice to not listen to that part of me anymore and to move forward.
Something else that I’ve found helps is to appreciate how far I have come already with a goal, I definitely don’t do enough of that. But remembering the hard work I’ve already put in along the way means I am far more likely to stick at it because I don’t want to undo the steps I’ve already taken. It’s a bit cliché, but breaking down goals into small manageable steps definitely helps; like eating an elephant, you can only do it bit by bit. I know that’s not a great analogy; given I’m vegetarian and I love elephants; but chunking things up in that way does seem to make it a lot easier to get to an end goal. It helps you get traction by appreciating each step along the way and then confirming the next steps you need to take.
My father was the one who came up with the elephant analogy, when he was taking me to climb Snowdon the first time (well we were actually about three quarters of the way up and I was struggling) but it’s stayed with me always and stuck in my head, it really helps me when I’m trying to achieve something difficult. Actually I quite often think about how I feel climbing mountains when I’ve got a tricky challenge to face. Taking things one step at a time, stopping to catch my breath and appreciating the journey to get there just as much as the view from the top.
One of the other things I’ve also done in the past that gets in the way of achieving goals is not making enough time to work on them. I’m nearing 50, it’s making me realise that I only have a limited time left on this planet to actually work on the things that inspire and excite me, so if I don’t start making time every day to do those things then when will I? When I retire? That means I have to wait 20 years or so before I get to work on the things I love, I don’t think so! I don’t want to waste another day, I want every day to feel like I’ve made progress on the things that mean a lot to me and that will get me to truly love my life.
So that’s why I’m calling time on self-sabotage, I’m trying to learn something new every day, I’m trying to be more open-minded to change and I’m hoping that it will mean I might find it easier to stay focussed on working towards and achieving my goals. My biggest hope though, is that something that I’m sharing here is helping someone else in the same way that I have found help from reading other people’s blogs and advice.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life” – Jean Shinoda Bolen
PHOTO BY JIYEON PARK ON UNSPLASH